- George Orwell - 1984
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Illegals OK'd to Drive in N.Y.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has started a major political fight over immigration by ordering state officials to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens, prompting at least one county legislature to defy the executive order and pushing toward a showdown in court.
The embattled governor's order has drawn some acerbic commentary, including a cartoon showing Osama bin Laden as a New York City taxi driver. After spending months trying to deflect charges that he used state police to target the Republican leader of the state Senate, Mr. Spitzer appears eager for a fight over this contentious issue.
"The rabid right that wants to pile on and use this to demagogue the issue will not carry the day in New York state," he said recently. "Those who view this as a political issue once again are taking the state in the wrong direction."
The driver's license issue has once again put the governor at odds with New Yorkers. When New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who inJune abandoned the Republican Party, criticized the order recently, the Democratic governor shot back that the mayor was "dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong."
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani joined the list of opponents this week. "Governor Spitzer should not give licenses to illegals," he told the Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday. "It doesn't make sense."
The issue heated up late last week, when the Monroe County legislature defied the governor and ordered its county clerk to require anyone seeking a driver's license to provide a valid Social Security number. The decision runs counter to Mr. Spitzer's order, in which illegal aliens with valid foreign passports would be eligible to obtain a state driver's license.
Again, Mr. Spitzer was defiant: "I hate to say it — the clerks have to enforce it," he said. "The clerks who issue driver's licenses are agents of the state. They do not make state law on this. State government does."
In another move, 29 clerks, all but one a Republican, voted to oppose the plan, with 13 vowing to directly disobey the governor, even if ordered to comply. The clerks said their offices would be hard-pressed to determine the legality of applicants.